Aging and Caregiving in the News

Information, updates and interesting tidbits from across the country and around the world.

In this issue:

  • Texting while driving dulls our "sixth sense."
  • Family may notice memory loss before their loved one does.
  • Video gamers, watch out for this ailment.

One More Reason Not to Text While Driving

Senior woman in driving simulator

Some people justify sneaking a quick text message while driving with thoughts along these lines: "If I let my daughter know I'm running late, I'll stop worrying and better concentrate on my driving." Is it true that driving while preoccupied or upset is dangerous? Somewhat, says a new study from the University of Houston and Texas A & M — but, the study authors say, texting is worse. The research team found that volunteers in a driving simulator handled the wheel with less skill if they were asked while driving to respond to emotionally or mentally distracting questions. However, it seems that the part of our minds that we're not using can compensate. According to study author Ioannis Pavlidis, "The driver's mind can wander and his or her feelings may boil, but a sixth sense keeps a person safe, at least in terms of veering off course." But what about when we're texting? Without eye-hand coordination to fill in, the volunteers who texted were likely to "drive" right out of their virtual lanes. Said Pavlidis, "What makes texting so dangerous is that it wreaks havoc into this sixth sense."

Family May Notice Memory Loss Even Though Their Loved One Doesn't

If we live long enough, we all will experience certain age-related memory changes. Even these normal changes can seem troublesome. On the other hand, families whose loved one has Alzheimer's or other dementia often report their loved one doesn't notice that their memory is failing. "Unawareness of one's memory problems is an inevitable feature of late-life dementia, driven by a buildup of dementia-related changes in the brain," says Dr. Robert S. Wilson of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Reporting in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, Wilson noted that lack of awareness of memory loss might even be the earliest symptom of dementia — and family are the ones to notice. Said Wilson, "This study underscores the importance of family members looking for help from doctors, and doctors getting information from friends or family when making decisions about whether a person has dementia, since people may be unable to give reliable reports about the history of their own memory and thinking abilities."

Do You Have "Gamers Thumb"?

You've probably read about the injuries sustained these days by players of the wildly popular Pokémon Go game as they walk around trying to capture virtual critters. With their eyes glued to their phones, gamers have fallen off curbs, bumped into each other and even walked into traffic. But we don't even have to get off the couch to sustain a gaming injury, say experts from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). They recently reported that excessive video gaming can cause De Quervain's tendinosis, an inflammation of the tendons that connect the wrist to the thumb. AAOS spokesperson Dr. Dori Cage recommends that gamers avoid long sessions with the controller or mouse, use good posture, stretch the thumb during breaks — and, of course, stop gaming if their thumb starts to hurt! Read more on the AAOS website.

Source: Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) in association with IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2016 IlluminAge

Photo: Malcolm Dcosta, University of Houston